Christine Mulholland rips ‘whining’ SLO Council for giving itself big raise


Former San Luis Obispo councilwoman Christine Mulholland slammed current council members in a Tribune opinion column criticizing the recent decision by the city’s governing body to grant itself a large raise. 

Earlier this month, the SLO City Council voted unanimously to grant itself large pay increase. Effective next year, base pay for council members will increase 63 percent from $14,688 annually to $23,880. The mayor’s base pay will rise 46 percent from $20,700 to $30,096 a year.

“We ended up with people without any prior experience conducting city business whining about how much work it is and wanting more money for doing it,” Mulholland wrote in the opinion piece.  “Now we have some complaining about putting in 20 hours a week and wanting to be paid a living wage for doing it.”

Mulholland noted council members receive lavish benefits, in addition to the money they earn.

“Council members are treated very well. Yes, there are free lunches, and dinners. Expenses are paid for attending black tie events, monthly Chamber breakfasts, and annual statewide conferences,” Mulholland wrote.

The former councilwoman also said she finds it obscene council members are asking for a living wage and that, in the past, residents sought the job as a way to serve the community. 

“It is an honor to be elected to office and I find it obscene that those now on the council think they should be paid a living wage. Many others have done this job in the past as a way to serve the community. Each gives according to their own ability, and that means that not all have the time to take on the work, due to employment, family and other obligations.

“I personally averaged 30 to 35 hours a week, reading everything that came across my desk and accepting every opportunity to visit businesses and organizations I hadn’t known existed.

“I knew it was a big job, and waited until my son was grown to throw my hat in the ring. It was a gift to serve on the council, and I never gave a thought to the money, certainly not voting more for myself.”

Current SLO Mayor Heidi Harmon has argued council members should receive pay comparable to salaries for full-time employees, and she has lobbied the public to support the effort to raise her pay. Since becoming mayor in late 2016, Harmon has twice voted to raise her own compensation. 

Following a vote in 2018, Harmon received a 15 percent pay increase. Council members also received 2 percent raises at that time.